Saturday, October 13, 2012

The confused entity that is the CLT20

2009. Lalit Modi decided that the success of the IPL in South Africa merited the creation of a "Champions League". A competition of the best club/franchise/regional teams from all over the world. A brilliant idea in theory. But a little hard in practice, with fledgling T20 leagues sprouting all over the world. The resulting 1st tournament was a brilliant show on the field, with a lot of fun and a lot of unheralded names stealing the spotlight. Not a single IPL team made the semis and finals as the Aussies from NSW ran away with the tournament.

2010. The tournament is more or less about the Chennai Super Kings running away to the IPL-CLT20 double.

2011. Mumbai took the tournament with a few exciting games.

The first CLT20 was exciting because the likes of Trinidad and Tobago were pushing the so called "star-studded" IPL teams. The CLT20 was unearthing the likes of Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine. As the spin-masters in 2009 put it, here was the opportunity for the lesser lights around the World, to grab the spotlight and make a name for themselves. A huge opportunity.

It then became about the money. That led to the IPL. Now we have a farce of a Qualifying tournament for teams not from Australia, India and South Africa. Why? "Because these three countries have a stake in the tournament." So now, teams from Sri Lanka, the West Indies, New Zealand, England and Pakistan, go through a rubbish six team "Qualifying Round" so that two of them may join the EIGHT teams from India, Australia and South Africa.

Lets face it, the CLT20 is having a really powerful identity crisis. What is the purpose of this tournament? It could be one of the two below:

1. A platform for relatively unheralded/unknown domestic teams and players to get a chance of performing under the spotlight and make a name for themselves. Is that happening? Clearly not.

2. A league for Champions of countries. A test of the best vs. the best. Is that happening? Of course not. When the best from England and Pakistan are not even guaranteed a spot in the tournament, yet the 4th place team from India plays? You know something is monumentally screwed up.

So what should the CLT20 be? In my opinion the best CLT20 till date was the first one in 2009, because of the names it threw up. I do believe that is the best way to position the CLT20 - A platform for the lesser known domestic players. Of course, there is the case of India, SA and Australia holding a stake in this tournament to consider. Keeping all that in mind I have taken a jab at proposing a re-designed CLT20:

Qualifying round: 12 teams in 3 groups of 4. Teams: Winners from England, Pakistan, the West Indies, New Zealand and Sri Lanka and the best four Associate T20 teams (Currently they would be Ireland, Afghanistan, the Netherlands and Canada). Additionally, a draw could be held to decide among all the countries listed above (in addition to India, Australia and South Africa) based on which 3 countries get a wildcard entry into this Qualifying round. The countries that win the draw will get to send their 2nd best team to this Qualifying round (or in India's case the third best team).

Ultimately, the top two from each group would go through to the final tournament.

Final tournament: Same 10 team format as it is currently, with 2 IPL teams and the South African & Australian teams guaranteed a spot.

The above tournament, in my opinion, would be much more exciting than the one we're currently witnessing. It also gives enough of an edge to the 3 countries who took a punt on creating this tournament.

The CLT20 in its current shape is a nothing tournament. It needs to be restructured to bring back the magic of 2009. I do believe that reshaping the tournament as above will help.

Let me know your thoughts below :)